About seven months ago, I finished up at a day job to see what I can make of a full year of writing full time. I’m keeping track of things during these blogs every Friday or thereabouts. Previous installments are racked up here.
The above is the wraparound cover art for the upcoming Iris Wildthyme Of Mars from Obverse Books. When I mentioned last week that I submitted final edits on a new story, it was for this book. Since then editor Philip Purser-Hallard has announced the full line-up, so I can share too.
I open with it here not only because Paul Hanley’s artwork is gorgeous and fun and should be lauded at every opportunity, but because this is an example of something I’ve worked on that I couldn’t talk about at the time.
(On the subject of cover art – DO come back on Monday and check out Vincent Chong’s cover art for the first novella of my Summer Trilogy – it’s not like other book covers, I promise…)
Transparency writing this freelance blog is harder than you think, and I have to fight all kinds of instincts to get it done. Some things are easy. When things are going well, when reviews are great, when money’s rolling in… these are all pretty easy to talk about. That’s why the web is full of success stories, with little to balance them out. The opposite is harder. When things aren’t going great it’s easier to downplay than to admit to. Nobody wants to fail, but it happens to everybody at some point. It’s a lot easier to deal with when your failures are behind closed doors and not in public. I’ve tried to talk about some things that haven’t worked over the last few months, as well as the things that have. I’ll try to do this more, though hopefully there will continue to be enough positives to stop the blog turning into an embarrassed whine.
There are other blocks to work with. I pitched my new Iris story to the editor many months ago, and it was accepted in principle at that point. Since then, I wrote the story, sent it off, dealt with edits, and last week finished it off. I didn’t feel I could talk about any of that because the publisher hadn’t announced the book yet. I’ll try to think of a way around this if it comes up again, and at least let you know that I’m doing something for somebody even if I can’t be more specific.
Open submission calls are another block, but one of protocol only. Generally, writers who list what they’ve sent off as submissions to specific books or magazines are new to the whole thing. With little sold yet, they talk about the things they hope to sell. It’s aspirational and self-motivational, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Writers with more sales under their belt tend to clam up a bit. If we’re going to talk about a book then it will be one that you can go and buy. Some of it goes back to not failing in public, and protecting a certain image of success in the hope that it breeds even more success. Maybe a little of it is also competitiveness. As a rule more seasoned writers aren’t very competitive with one another, but this is made all the more easy when each one is his own island. For the next six months, at least while I’m trying to write and submit a story every fortnight as part of this project, I’ll forget about all that and tell you what I’m writing and who I hope to send it to. You can watch me fall flat on my face a lot, but hopefully something will come along to celebrate too.
I think money is the final taboo. I get really uncomfortable talking about exactly what I’m spending and earning, and that’s just a sensible online thing. I don’t think I’ll break this habit. I’m happy, within the specific boundaries of the freelance year, to let you know whether it’s in the red, in the black, and so forth. That’s as much as I can do on that one though.
Basically, for the next six months of this I’ll try to include a better picture of everything that’s happening, good and bad. For the most part I’ll do that in the weekly update, below. I suspect that at the end of the freelance project I’ll get back to being my secretive self, but I don’t want to frame this whole thing as a success if it isn’t, nor do I want to create a false impression of how easy it’s all been at the end. Nothing is learned that way.
As ever with this blog, it’s probably more use to you than me. It helps me keep my eyes open and my momentum up.
I’m keeping track of my fairly ambitious/silly targets for the last few months of the freelance year here every Friday so I don’t take my own eye off the ball. Active stuff that I plan to work on between now and next Friday is in bold.
Traditional Publishing Goals
Submit A New Short Story Per Fortnight
There you have it. Not bad progress on a couple of things, but the next seven days are going to need a hard push to get through.